The Importance of Gum Health

Most of us are very aware about any extra weight that we carry around our midsections, doing whatever we can to avoid having flabby abs. But are you worried about having flabby gums? Well according to a recent, Science Daily article, you should be. When you are having your bi-annual exam at the dentist, chances are you’ll hear your dentist or hygienist reciting numbers as she looks in your mouth.  While it might seem that he is counting your teeth, your gum health is actually being assessed using a calibrated dental instrument. The pocket between the gum and the tooth or root is measured, with the more space present resulting in a higher number. Higher numbers indicate a greater risk of gum disease.

In terms of gum health, a measurement of 1 to 3 millimeters is typically considered healthy, while 4 to 5 mm is in the warning zone. A measurement of anything over 5 mm is a “call to action to prevent disease.” According to Martin Hogan, DDS, Loyola University Medical Center, a 5 or 6 mm pocket usually requires a deep cleaning. “Patients are numbed and we use special instruments to remove the buildup,” he claims. It is common for these patients, identified as “at risk,” to come back for professional cleanings every 3 months until the gum health has improved. When numbers are higher, gum surgery is required. “The gums are flapped back for better access during cleaning and then sutured together,” Hogan stated. While the procedure sounds invasive, most patients are back to normal activity immediately.

Flabby gums, or receding gums, are caused by a buildup of bacteria. Anything that enters the mouth, food and drinks alike, can potentially cause inflammation and decay if not removed properly. Particles often get trapped between the teeth and gum, which is why brushing and flossing is so important. Approximately 90% of all tooth loss is caused by gum disease and tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association. The good news is that gum disease is often preventable by following a good oral health routine, including brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. Unfortunately, there are still many people who don’t know about this key piece in preventing oral disease. “Dental work can be expensive and take time away from work and other activities. This is why we continue to stress preventative measures such as brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, in hopes of avoiding costly and time consuming procedures,” says Hogan.

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